Commodity Codes

eProcurement systems use commodity codes to classify purchases. Spend analytics systems can analyze the categorized purchases to provide insight on how an organizations money is being speant. Suppliers may need to include commodity codes in their catalogs depending on their customers requirements.


UNSPSC is an open classification system for products and services. UNSPSC codes are 8 numeric digits that correspond to a commodity such as Staplers or Laptops. The UNSPSC classification system is organized as a 4 level hierarchy of: Segment, Family, Class, and Commodity. Each level of the hierarchy represents 2 digits in the UNSPSC code. The latest version of UNSPSC contains over 40,000 codes. Products and services should be classified at the commodity level whenever possible.

Example Category Hierarchy

Level Code Description



Office Equipment and Accessories and Supplies



Office supplies



Desk supplies





The North American Product Classification System (NACPS) is a system for classifying products (goods or services). The NAPCS structure consists of six hierarchical levels: sections, subsections, divisions, groups, subgroups, and trilateral products. Depending on the level, NACPS codes are 2 - 11 numeric digits. Despite having more levels than UNSPSC, the lowest level NACPS codes are less specific than commodity level UNSPSC codes.


The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is a system for classifying businesses. NAICS is an industry classification system, not a product classification system, and is not well suited for classifying indirect procurement spend.


The NIGP code system is a classification system for products sponsored by the NIGP organization and maintained by Periscope Holdings. A license is required to use the classification system. While many suppliers have categorized their product catalog with UNSPSC codes, very few have NIGP code classifications for their products. This results in an additional UNSPSC to NIGP crosswalk needing to be purchased. Both the classification system and the crosswalk are currently only avaialble from Periscope Holdings.

The future of the NIGP code is uncertain given the controversy regarding the relationship between NIGP (non-profit) and Periscope (private company). More information regarding these concerns can be found here: NIGP CodeGate.